Weeknight Shorts: Nugget Nirvana

Sometimes, things get busy and there isn't an hour to make dinner. Sometimes, there's no desire to present new and unusual dishes at the table. Sometimes, we all just want to put a tasty meal on the table that everyone, including the kids, will love. But instead of contemplating fast food, try opting for a kitchen quick fix that gives you this:

Caribbean Chicken Bites have a crispy coating, tender interior, and just a little spicy bite (although you could omit any hot sauce and go mild in a heartbeat). Instead of fighting with multiple coatings, raw eggs, and flour, simply brush your pieces of chicken (cut them smaller for little ones and leave them a bit bigger for older kids and adults) with seasoned mayonnaise and then toss them with seasoned panko breadcrumbs. After a short stay in a hot oven, you've got dinner.

Well, you've got chicken. I recommend serving them with a sweet and spicy sauce, although anything from ketchup to honey mustard will do the trick. I served mine alongside some pineapple fried rice, but you could have a quick garden salad, quick-cooking lentils, or any other side that makes your heart flutter. I recommend quick and simple to keep dinner prep to under a half hour. Save the fussy stuff for another time!

You could also toss these crisp morsels of tender chicken with any number of salad items to make a fantastic main dish salad or with pasta for your favorite bowl of noodles. I've even been known to double or triple this recipe so I have chicken to toss into another dinner or include in a quick lunch. With school back in our calendars, this one's definitely a keeper!

Caribbean Chicken Bites

  • 1/4 c. mayonnaise
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • Several dashes of hot sauce (optional)
  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces
  • 1 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425° F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper sprayed lightly with cooking spray or cover it with a nonstick baking mat.

Combine the mayonnaise, salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, and the hot sauce (if desired) in a small bowl. Brush the chicken pieces with the mayonnaise mixture so that they are all fully coated.

Combine the panko breadcrumbs, dried parsley, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl; toss to combine.

Transfer the chicken in small batches to the seasoned panko mixture. Toss the chicken in the panko mixture until well coated, then transfer it to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces, leaving about 1/2 inch between the chicken pieces on the baking sheet to allow for even baking.

Bake the chicken for 15 minutes, or until cooked through, turning over halfway through. If desired, broil the chicken for a minute at the end of baking to get them even crispier.

Serve the chicken with your favorite sweet and spicy sauce. I used sweet and spicy tabasco sauce.

  • Yields: 3-4 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes